Periodontal disease (gum disease) describes a condition when gums or gingiva tissue becomes unhealthy. There are many factors contributing to this infection, and studies show more than 75 percent of American adults have some form of gum disease. The problem is most people do not think gum disease is a big deal, when in fact it could contribute to multiple health risks and even cost your life. It is time to give gum disease the respect it deserves and do what you can to eliminate this common health problem.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The leading factor in gum disease is harmful bacteria in the mouth. Also, the lack of proper oral hygiene and the constant consumption of sugary or acidic foods are leading contributors to the problem. A sticky bio-film traps bacteria along the gumline and then every time you eat something sugary or starchy the bacteria break down these food particles and produce acids. The acids attack soft tissue and trigger an immune response. The trouble is, as the body tries to fight off the irritants, it leads to swelling and inflammation. This makes the problem worse because gums pull away from teeth, pockets along the gumline deepen and the bacteria make their way along the tooth root. Some other risk factors for periodontal infection include:
Ill-fitting dental restorations
Anatomical tooth abnormalities
Family history of periodontal disease
Smoking and substance abuse
Certain medical conditions
The body is a complex system and many diseases intermingle, making the exact cause and effect relationships impossible to determine. However, research does show an undeniable link between gum disease and diabetes, bacterial pneumonia, heart health and other systemic diseases. It can lead to low birth weight or premature birth. This is why gum disease is so dangerous and something you should constantly work to avoid.
Tips to Help You Fight Off Gum Disease
Fortunately, much like dental decay, gum disease is highly preventable if you have the right tools. If often starts with a solid oral hygiene regime. You must brush and floss twice a day and regularly visit the dentist for professional exams and cleanings. However, beyond that there are several other things you can do to avid this dangerous infection. You might try these:
1. Eat More Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Your teeth, gums and waistline will thank you. Not only do raw fruits and veggies contain valuable nutrients for a healthy body and healthy teeth, but these foods also act as natural cleaning agents. Apples, carrots, celery and broccoli are especially useful. They have high water content and help clean teeth and gums while you chew.
2. Use a Sterilizing Mouthwash
Sometimes you just can’t brush right after every meal. In these cases it is especially important to rid the mouth of harmful bacteria as well as any linger food particles. The best solution is to rinse your mouth. Though simple water will work in a pinch, you should consider a warm salt water rinse or try swishing with hydrogen peroxide. These solutions kill bacteria, but don’t swallow them. Just wish and spit immediately after your lunch or coffee break.
3. Find More Sources of Vitamin C
This is a powerful antioxidant that gives your immune system a boost. It also promotes connective tissue and bone growth, especially important when combating gum disease. Some great sources include citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, peppers and papayas.
4. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
One thing you want to do to avoid gum disease is keep the saliva flowing. Yes, you should be drinking lots of water to stay hydrated. However, you can also stimulate the salivary glands by chewing on gum that contains Xylitol. This helps restore the natural pH of your mouth to help you avoid cavities and periodontal infection.
If you have an increased risk of gum disease because of poor lifestyle choices, then now is the time to stop. Smoking and substance abuse are bad for your body, and especially your teeth and gums. Talk to your dental care provider if you need help. he or she will have several resources you can use to get started and stay on track. Otherwise you might as well get used to the idea of constantly battling gum disease and the greater risk of losing your teeth altogether.